Propane has a strong, unpleasant smell like rotten eggs, a skunk’s spray, or a dead animal. Propane manufacturers add the smell deliberately to help alert customers to propane leaks, which can create a safety hazard.
It may be hard for some people to smell propane for the following reasons:
• They have a cold, allergies, sinus congestion, or another medical condition.
• Their sense of smell is reduced due to use of tobacco, alcohol, or drugs.
• Tobacco smoke, cooking odors, and other strong odors can mask the smell of propane.
• As people age, their sense of smell can become less sensitive.
• If the smell of propane is present in the air over a period of time, “odor fatigue” can occur. The nose “gets tired,” and a person no longer smells the propane odor.
• The propane smell may not be strong enough to wake up someone who is sleeping.
• The propane smell may be in a location (basement or attic) where it is not detected by people in other areas of the building.
• A phenomenon called “odor loss” can occur—an unintended reduction in the concentration of the odor of propane.
What is Odorloss?
On rare occasions, propane can lose its odor. Several things can cause this including:
• Air, water, or rust in a propane tank or cylinder can reduce propane odor concentration.
• The propane odor may stick to the inside surfaces of gas piping and distribution systems and possibly other materials.
• If the propane is leaking underground, its passage through soil may reduce the smell of propane.
• Since there is a possibility of odor loss or problems with your sense of smell, you should respond immediately to even a faint odor of gas.
IF YOU ARE CONCERNED that you or others in your home may have difficulty smelling propane, consider buying one or more propane gas detectors.